Coppertone blended with gravel and
sweat, French-Onion Sunchips, and
the old cracked vinyl from the church van.
That van so coated in melted gummy worms and
tears, hymns, spoken fears, and
unspoken faith in God, humanity, ourselves.
The spray foam at the car wash
after long trips to concerts and
conventions, camps, and cookouts.
Adults yelling “Shut Up!”
as we sing loudly off-key in the dark
Walmart parking lot somewhere between Yreka and Spokane.
The taste of redwood dust accumulated over a
dozen summers in our stained-glass retreat, endangered only
by the demons of our awareness.
We were children convinced of our
infallibility, conditioned for guilt and shame, but
still unbound by modesty.
Our dusty skin on the banks of the
Russian River where love was simple and those
driving the church van had not yet
weaponized our faith against us.
It’s a memory somewhere between
Jesus Loves Me and Harlots Burn in Hell.
It’s a glow of not-quite-right nostalgia
run through filters of light to remove
shadows of self-doubt, self-loathing.
I passed out in the summer sun
sunscreen mixed with pain and blackness.
A heat-induced illness forever
scarred my skin with a constant reminder
to cover all that is sensitive
so that nothing could hurt me again.